A Guide To The Bibi-ka-Maqbara- The South Indian Twin of The Taj Mahal

“Allah-hu-Akbar-Allah”. “Allah-hu-Akbar-Allah”. The sound blared somewhere outside. I rubbed my eyes and pulled myself out of bed. The ticking hands of the wristwatch reminded me it was our last few hours in the hotel, and in the city.

My sleepy head husband looked at me with beady eyes. “Come on get ready, we can’t give in to sleep” I said.

In a few minutes we were both ready to set out on the auspicious day of Eid to see with our own eyes what ‘a bad copy of Taj Mahal’ (as described by the internet) would look like.

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Bibi-ka-Maqbara

Time For History

The existence of Bibi ka Maqbara was revealed to us in 2016. We must have been living under a rock not to know an asymmetrical twin of the Taj Mahal can be found in the Deccan.

Mughal emperor Aurangzeb’s son, prince Azam Shah is credited to be the driving force behind the Bibi ka Maqbara. It is a mausoleum dedicated to his mother Rabia-ud-Daurani. Inscriptions found on the mausoleum mentions Ata-Ullah to be the chief architect of the edifice. Ata-Ullah happens to be the son of the chief architect of the Taj Mahal.

Aurangzeb is popular in history for being a king who never patronised any art form and made illegal all forms of enjoyment and entertainment. He disliked his son’s idea of spending money on building a beautiful tomb. Constrained by money, the party was forced to use poor quality construction materials while erecting the building. So instead of getting another Taj Mahal, our country India scored just a poor copy of it.

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Trying photo-ops at Bibi-ka-Maqbara

Reaching Bibi-ka-Maqbara

The streets of Osmanpura neighbourhood were empty. The city was getting its extra hour of beauty sleep. Thankfully we found an auto which agreed to drop us off at Bibi ka Maqbara for INR 100 . In our minds we had plans to explore the Daulatabad Fort post breakfast by public transport (bus) and catch the afternoon train back to Mumbai.

In our previous post, we talked about how deft the auto drivers of Aurangabad are in selling their service. We bragged about how we avoided them. Well, this time we got sold and we have zero regret. The deal was a win-win for both the seller and the buyer! The auto driver offered us a pre-breakfast trip to Bibi-ka-Maqbara and back, then a post breakfast trip to Daulatabad Fort, which would end with dropping us off at the Aurangabad railway station. His package was worth INR 500.

Our other option was hiring random autos to make one way trips to and back from Bibi-ka-Maqbara which would have set us back by INR 200. Visiting Daulatabad fort and returning to railway station by public transport would have cost us another INR 200 atleast (INR 60 for auto from hotel to bus depot, INR 100 for to and fro travel from Daulatabad Fort in MSRTC bus, INR 40 for auto from MSRTC bus depot to station). So the total cost would have been around INR 400. By paying just INR 100 extra we got the luxury of a private vehicle, which we also used to keep our luggage in after checking out of the hotel. Later, we realised we couldn’t have scaled the high Daulatabad Fort if we had carried our heavy backpacks all the time with us.

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The facade of Bibi-ka-Maqbara

Appreciating the Crooked Beauty of the Taj of Deccan: Bibi-ka-Maqbara

Entry Price (for Indians) – INR 15
Time taken to explore the place- 1 hour (including plenty of photo breaks)
Timing- 6 AM to 10 PM

As usual our “go early morning to avoid crowd” strategy worked. It generally does, unless it’s a popular sunrise point in question. At 7 AM when we reached the ticket counter, we noticed just one other small group of visitors.

We came face-to-face with the beautiful edifice after passing through an octagonal (or was it hexagonal?) enclosure.

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Enclosure at the Bibi-ka-Maqbara premises
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Closer view of the exterior of the enclosure at the Bibi-ka-Maqbara premises

The enclosure has minor embellishments on its exterior walls but its interior is grand. Finely cut out niches of different patterns adorn the interior. The ceiling and upper end of the wall is decorated by line patterns which surrounded a central circular design, intricately carved. As per the website of Archaeological Survey of India, the designs are done on brass plate with wood covering.

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Interior of the enclosure
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Ceiling of the enclosure

The Bibi-ka-maqbara undoubtedly resembles the Taj Mahal. The dome shaped mausoleum is flanked by four towering minarets. The pathway leading to the tomb is beautified by a series of fountains which were not functioning when we visited.

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The facade of the Bibi-ka-Maqbara

The seat just outside the enclosure, facing the mausoleum is a perfect vantage point to try out photo ops.

The husband is generally shy to face the camera, but he gives in when the wife shoots out those lovely requests. 😉

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Awesomeness 😀
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The popular Taj Mahal pose

Since the only set of visitors who accompanied us were nowhere in view, we decided to spend some more time in the pathway trying artistic ways of shutter locking our experience here. The walls which guarded the pathway sometimes had interesting doors which teleported us to the Mughal era.

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The husband clicks the wife directs 
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A door on the wall- definitely not for security purpose!

The lower level of the building is a square platform upon which the architectural splendour stands. We reached the base of the mausoleum by ascending up a flight of steps.

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Notice the square base
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Why do I look so dead here?
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Ascending up
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An abandoned set of staircase

Unlike the Taj Mahal, this building is not entirely made up of marble. Most of it is in lime mortar. The obvious traces of weathering were clearly visible in many parts of it.

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Notice the discoloured features
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Discoloured features at the Bibi-ka-Maqbara

We stared at each nook and corner on all four sides of the mausoleum trying to figure out which is the best. We are no expert but all the four sides had more or less the same quality of relief work.

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The western part of the tomb has a pillared mosque the entry to which is restricted.

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Mosque at the Bibi -ka- Maqbara
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Interiors of the mosque at the Bibi -ka- Maqbara

The soaring minarets have balconies on top. Some portions of the wall of the minarets have patches indicating the decay. We could only imagine what brilliant view of the city those balconies can guarantee.

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One of the minars – Shamefully overedited photo
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Balcony at the top of the minar

We entered the arch shaped entry gate of the mausoleum. The floor has a huge octagonal opening in the centre with a very low railing. Through that opening the tomb is visible.

On the green cloth covering the tomb we found the offerings that visitors must have made. The sanctum was covered with money. I think we also saw a couple of mobile phones, probably those were not meant to be offerings!

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Tomb of Rabia-ud-Daurani
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Offerings cover the tomb of Rabia-ud-Daurani

We noticed a floral pattern on the octagonal dome shaped ceiling.

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Ceiling of the mausoleum 

What we loved best were the windows here. The way these artistic windows allowed light to pass through can be a very interesting subject to photograph.

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Eastern side windows of the mausoleum
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Eastern side windows of the mausoleum
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The southern door of the mausoleum

We also noticed the mausoleum is surrounded by sprawling green lawns or garden. Though we wanted to visit the gardens, the lack of time did not allow us to do so. 

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The garden to the east
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The garden to the west
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The garden to the north
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The garden to the south – A view of the enclosure

We hung around in this Mughal era creation, trying to feel how a person would have felt in the Aurangzeb regime. A regime which banned art and entertainment cannot feel good after all!

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Inspired by the windows

Goodbye

We got back to our precious vehicle and chatted with the driver while returning back to the hotel. He took us through the congested alleys of the old town of Aurangabad. Men wearing white caps and long shirts had taken over the streets; the festival of Eid had started!

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Have you been to the Taj Mahal in India? Does the Bibi -ka- Maqbara interest you? Comment below and let’s get talking!

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79 thoughts on “A Guide To The Bibi-ka-Maqbara- The South Indian Twin of The Taj Mahal

  1. I visited it few years ago. It’s similarity to Agra’a Taj Mahal is uncanny. It is amusing how identical it is to the real thing. I also visited the Buddhist caves nearby on a hill top. The view of Aurangabad city from this place is sweeping.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am very curious what percentage of the national budget is dedicated to conservation in India. The sites are beautiful, but I think they would do well to take a page out of the French approach where over 1% of the annual budget is dedicated to conservation. 1% is actually staggeringly large, when you apply that to real numbers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True that. But the problem with India is that with such a large population lying below the poverty line + unrest on all its land borders + corruption, its very hard to think about conservation of history! 😦

      Like

  3. We loved the Bibi Ka Maqbara. When we first set sight on it, we were influenced by the images of the Taj. But to give the monument its due, it is a beautiful structure on its own right and it may not be really fair to compare it to the Taj Mahal. Very nice and informative post here.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bibi ka maqbara looks very similar to the Taj Mahal. And it’s works are also very intricate. I want to visit here sometimes myself. Thanks for all the details. I will follow these to plan my own trip

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Having been to the Taj Mahal in India, I have to say that Biki Ka Maqbara is very similar. I love the history you gave behind why it is the poor mans Taj Mahal. It is so sad that his dad restricted his building materials.
    Although it is classed as the poor mans Taj Mahal, I think the Biki Ka Maqbara has one bonus . . . no crowds 🙂
    I will definitely consider visiting here next time I am in the south of India

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading Kathy. I haven’t been to the Taj Mahal yet but from the pictures of the Taj Mahal, I infer Bibi-ka-maqbara is much similar. If you want to cheat the crowd go early morning!

      Like

  6. Bibi ka Mawbara resembles quite a lot like Taj. I went to this place in my childhood and was amazed to see the replica of Taj. Very few people know about this and it is good you covered the hidden treasure of Deccan. It is very nice you posed your shy husband too with the famous Taj pose.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love that you were able to explore this tomb early enough to avoid the crowds. The resemblance to the Taj Mahal is stricking. The ornate detailing in many of yours photos are beautiful and even it’s crumbling features bring out a rustic beauty and charm!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I finally got to read about Bibi Ka Maqbara after having heard about this monument so many times. And it doesn’t look that bad as a duplicate after all! May be I can’t comment as I have not seen the Taj Mahal yet! lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let me tell you something, I too haven’t seen Taj Mahal yet! So we are basically in the same boat! But the decay spots in this buildings are too glaring. Taj Mahal or not, I loved this place nonetheless!

      Like

  9. Excellent article, I had never even heard of this structure before. I is quite beautiful but obviously not as nice as its model. This article is a very good read and I do like the pictures so I am going to reblog this article for you,

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The Bibi ka Maqbara does look very much like the Taj Mahal. I visited South India a few years ago but never knew about it. That’s a good tip about arriving early, it makes a huge difference when you take pictures with no one in the background.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. A stunning building, both inside and out! This place is totally new to me, but then again so is India! Beautiful photos that definitely entice me to want to go. Thanks for sharing about this wonderful place.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow I had never even heard of this place before! It looks like an amazing alternative (or extra place to see) in India. Your photos are stunning, I love all of the details of the building that you captured.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It resembles the Taj Mahal in many ways but the decaying condition was hard to miss. I agree that calling it a poor man’s Taj Mahal is kind of insulting the monument. I had some of my life’s best travel moments and photos in that mausoleum . 🙂

      Like

  13. Oh yes, it does look like the Taj Mahal. That is so interesting that there are other magnificent architectural structures in India outside of the ones that are visited by tourists. The level of detail to the architecture is so impressive. I am easily turned off by touristy spots, so I guess this would be a great alternative to the Taj Mahal!

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  14. बीवी का मकबरा यह वाला तो नहीं देखा लेकिन इस बीबी के मकबरे को देख कर जो दूसरा मकबरा बनाया गया।
    जिसे हम ताजमहल के नाम से जानते हैं उसे जरुर देखने का मौका दो बार लग चुका है।
    इस बीबी के मकबरे के पास एक बार जाना भी हुआ, तब भी देख न पाये, दोलताबाद किला जरूर देख आये थे।

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It really means a lot to me. I am so happy my blog is serving its purpose of helping and inspiring people! Feel free to ping me up whenever you plan or let me know if I can help you with information while planning your visit!

        Liked by 1 person

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